About First HELP
It is the mission of First H.E.L.P. to reduce mental health stigma through education, advocate for benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, acknowledge the service and sacrifice and support the families of first responders we lost to suicide, assist first responders in their search for healing, lead policy makers and legislators toward necessary change, and to bring awareness to suicide and mental health issues within public safety.
Before Blue H.E.L.P was formed, the original idea for the organization was to include all first responder disciplines. There was a gap in efforts to gather data, and honor those who had served their community honorably but had been denied respect because they died by suicide. Ultimately the founders decided the undertaking was just too large as we all worked full time jobs, so we chose to start our focus on law enforcement. Throughout the years we have had contact with professionals from every first responder discipline and their families asking if we would do the same for their fields. Now we can answer…yes.
Meet the First H.E.L.P. Team
Chief Executive Officer
Jeff began his law enforcement career with four years of military service. He then entered the civilian law enforcement profession at the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office where he stayed full-time for 15 years. Jeff had numerous assignments including patrol, street crimes, beach/marine unit, investigations, sex offender unit, and gang intelligence. Hi is the co-author of The Price They Pay Jeff is now the Academy Director at Northwest Florida State College overseeing training for basic recruits as well as advanced courses for certified officers.
Chief Operating Officer
Steven is a 20-year veteran of Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. During his time with the Sheriff’s Office Steven also spent seven years assigned as a Task Force Officer for the US Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force based in Pensacola, FL. While serving a warrant with the task force Steven was shot numerous times, including once in the face. As a result of his actions, Steven was awarded the Congressional Badge of Bravery, United States Marshal’s Purple Heart, and the Medal of Valor from Santa Rosa County. Steven has since retired from the Okaloosa county Sheriff’s Office and is currently working as an inspector with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.
Chief Financial Officer
Karen is the creator of www.1sthelp.net and the author of Hearts Beneath the Badge and The Price They Pay as well as many articles about law enforcement suicide. Her focus is the stories of the families who have lost an officer to suicide and the officers who suffer with the feeling that they have nowhere to turn. Karen was a member of the 2018 Officer Safety and Wellness Group Meeting, the co-Chair of the Data and Research Committee of the National Consortium on Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention and is currently on the FBI task force to implement the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act. Karen is also the wife of a police officer.
Chief Marketing Officer
Joe is the Director of Business Development for Team One Network – an international training company based out of Fredericksburg, VA. He retired from the United States Army as a Military Police First Sergeant in the summer of 2016 after more than 20-years of service. His last few military assignments include; Operations Sergeant Major for a Combined Arms Training Brigade, Senior Enlisted Advisor and Tactics Instructor for the Department of Military Science at West Point, Equal Opportunity Program Manager for the United States Military Academy, and First Sergeant for a Military Police Initial Entry Training Company. Learn more about Joe and the VennLeader Model at www.VennLeader.com.
ShaRonda Young Calderon is the widow of Deputy Homero Calderon, an 18yr veteran with the Dallas County Sheriff Department, who died by suicide on June 29, 2018. She has a bachelor degree in criminal justice from Dallas Baptist University and currently pursuing advance studies in psychology. She and her husband started their career together in law enforcement with the Sheriff Dept in 2000. She currently works as a legal assistant for a small law firm in Dallas TX. ShaRonda has become an advocate for mental health and suicide awareness because she understands the difficulties living with and the stigma attached to it.
Bill Zito served 12 years as a police officer and investigator with agencies in Florida and Washington. He’s been a broadcast journalist since 1999, covering local, national and international events for several news outlets. In 2006, Bill’s wife, Carolyn Stiers-Zito died by suicide. Carolyn, a 20-year decorated police veteran, had been retired less than 2 years when she died. Bill has been a board chair, public spokesperson and an event/education promoter for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He’s also been an instructor and lecturer for police academies and first responder training sessions on Identifying PTSI, Family Response to Suicide as well as Public Safety and Media Interaction.
John is a Marine Corps combat veteran who has spent the last 9 years as a full-time Fire Fighter for City of Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay Area. His experience as a veteran and first responder lends itself to his true passion: helping fight suicide and advocate for mental health in both communities through his music career. John has been a successful recording artist since 2014 and is currently with Sony/Concore Entertainment. While he received many accolades throughout his time in the industry, his focus was honed when his oldest brother Michael, also a Marine Corps veteran with a 20-year career in law enforcement, lost his life to suicide in 2016. Since that time, John has found many outlets to continue opening the conversation about mental health including national news appearances and most recently, founding the 22 and You movement that began with a 630-mile hike down the California coast and has evolved into the docuseries #ShareTheWeight which is currently in post-production. To learn more about John’s mission, please visit johnprestonmusic.com and 22andYou.net.